Of pigment mediums, both oil and tempera, - yolk of egg or size, - appear to have been used indifferently, according to whether a luminous or a non-reflective finish was desired. Colours darken, after years, when used with oil mediums, but this is due to the oil not being sufficiently refined. Jan Van Eyck is usually credited with being the first to use oil colours for his pictures,1 and Margaret Van Eyck's account of her brother's way of refining his oil may be quoted here from the " Cloister and the Hearth," as being illuminating, if not literally correct.
' Note my brother Jan's pictures; time, which fades all other paintings, leaves his colours bright as the day they left the easel. The reason is, he did nothing blindly, nothing in a hurry. He trusted to no hireling to grind his colours; he did it himself, or saw it done. His panel was prepared, and prepared again - I will show you how - a year before he laid his colour on. Most of them are quite content to have their work sucked up and lost, sooner than not be in a hurry. Bad painters are always in a hurry. Above all, Gerard, I warn you to use but little oil, and never boil it; boiling it melts that vegetable dross into its very heart, which it is our business to clear away; for impure oil is death to colour. No; take your oil and pour it into a bottle with water. In a day or two the water will turn muddy; that is muck from the oil. Pour the dirty water carefully away, and add fresh. When that is poured away you will fancy the oil is clear. You are mistaken. "Reicht, fetch me that! " Reicht brought a glass trough with a glass lid fitting tight. When your oil has been washed in a bottle, put it into this trough with water, and put the trough in the sun all day. You will soon see the water turbid again. But mark, you must not carry this game too far, or the sun will turn your oil to varnish. When it is as clear as a crystal, and not too luscious, drain carefully, and cork it up tight. Grind your own prime colours, and lay them on with this oil, and they shall live. Hubert would put sand or salt in the water to clear the oil quicker. But Jan used to say, "Water will do it best, give water time." Jan Van Eyck was never in a hurry, and that is why the world will not forget him in a hurry ! ' " ' to have learned much the same lesson. Their palette was restricted; the earth colours, and here and there one of mineral or vegetable basis completed the gamut. These pigments, together with gold in leaf or powder (brush gold) were nearly always used in accordance with the law of emblazonry, colour on metal, or the reverse; rarely colour upon colour. It is probable that these luminers were also employed in heraldic emblazonry as well, and they would be well acquainted with tinctures and their application. Of colours and metals we get the following sequence: red (gules), green (vert), blue (azure), white - for silver - (argent), gold (or) and black (sable). Yellow is sometimes used for work of lesser importance. It ranks, in heraldry, as a metal. That this law of emblazonry of metal on colour or colour upon metal was not rigid, even among heralds themselves, may be seen in early coats. Thus the arms of the kingdom of Jerusalem are "argent a cross potent between four crosses, all or "; of Leycester of De Tabley, "azure, a fess gules between three fleursde-lys or"; of Sir Richard de Rokesale (temp. Edward II) "d'azure, a six lioncels d'argent, a une fosse de gules."
1 Later research has established the fact that the use of oil with pigments is older than the Van Eycks, and it is by no means certain whether they used oil mediums for many of their pictures.
Fig. 99. Atherington, Devon, Chancel Screen. - Late fourteenth century. - Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.
Fig. 100. Grundisburgh, Suffolk, Chancel Screen. - Late fourteenth century.
Fig. 101. Grundisburgh Chancel Screen, Detail.
Fig. 102. Barking, Suffolk, S. Chapel Screen. - Fifteenth century
Fig. 103. Barking, Suffolk, N. Chapel Screens. - Fifteenth century.
Fig. 104. Lavenham, Suffolk, N. Chapel Screen, Detail. - Late fifteenth century. - Mr. C. J. Abbott, Photo.
Fig. 105. Lavenham, Suffolk, N. Aisle Parclose Screen, Details. - Mid-fifteenth century. - Mr. C. J. Abbott, Photo.
The old luminers of Gothic woodwork appear
Fig. 106. Hereford, All Saints' Church, Stalls. - Late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. 115
Fig. 107. Chudleigh, Devon, The Western Type Of Arched Screen. - Mid-fifteenth century. 116
Fig. 108. Chudleigh, Devon, Detail Of Screen. - Mid-fifteenth century. - Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.
Fig. 109. Bradninch, Devon, Detail Of Screen. - Late fifteenth century. Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.